The following article is from the appendix of James McCracken’s Personal Training Manual.
There are three overall things to consider first in every funeral situation:
- Comfort the people left behind. Realize that they’re not under normal circumstances, and thus may say strange things or act differently. Don’t assume that they will respond normally.
- Discern the situation or circumstances which surround the person’s death, since different situations will call for different responses. People coming to a funeral will respond differently for an 86-year-old who died of natural causes than for a little girl killed in an auto accident, or a Christian who died vs. a non-Christian. Make sure you know the facts, because many who come to the funeral will not know all the details surrounding the death, and will be looking to you for them. These things are critical to know so that you may [take some of the pressure off the family.]
- Minister accordingly. Get a word of direction, a word of comfort, a word of hope from the Lord. It may make the difference between a right and healthy recovery for the family, and a continuing sorrow.
If asked to be present at the reviewal, be sure to do the following:
- Greet people.
- Again, make sure you know the facts surrounding the person’s death.
- When speaking about the deceased person, always say positive things: their gifts, their good points, how they touched other people’s lives.
The reviewal is a good thing, because it allows people to pay their last respects and emphasizes a point of departure from that person.
The Funeral Service
Optional: The members of the family can be in a room off of the main area to be ushered in at the beginning of the service. A general format to follow if asked to lead a funeral is as follows:
- Begin with prayer.
- Word of introduction. I like to make it informal.
- Music (optional) — individual singing or congregational singing.
- Short address — get family’s requests, i.e. salvation message.
- More singing (optional).
- Say something about the person who died (or tie into address).
- Closing prayer and/or separate prayer for the family.
- Final arrangements — invitation to gravesite and/or church reception hall for refreshments.
Note: Since you’re leading the service, make sure you’re on top of the details: number of pallbearers to be present, food organization, etc.
- The focus is on the family as they’re gathered around the gravesite.
- Make a statement that we’re at the gravesite to reckon that we’re just men and that each man is appointed to die (Hebrews 9:27), but that we can be with the Lord.
- If the person was a Christian, address that he/she is with the Lord now. Express our victory in Christ over death. “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
- Lay hands on the family (if requested).